Four observations on the Sixth Fatah General Congress, which took place in Bethlehem on August 4-9:
The Fatah leadership openly played to the Palestinian street, ignoring Washington or Jerusalem: Examples indicative of the intended audience:
At the opening ceremony, Palestinian Media Watch reports, "Fatah leaders responded with loud applause when two terrorists who committed the worst terror attack in Israel's history were referred to as heroic Martyrs by former PA Prime Minister Abu Alaa."
Ahmed Tibi, a member of the Israeli parliament, termed Israelis living within the 1949 lines "settlers" and declared that "Whoever came last should be the first to leave."
Jibril Rajoub announced that "Resistance [DP: i.e., terrorism] was and is a tactical and strategic option of the struggle."
Zakaria Zubeidi advised Palestinians to ready themselves for the possibility that "it is war that Israel wants, and not peace."
As Khaled Abu Toameh summed it up, "Fatah is sending a message both to the Palestinians and the world that it's still not ready for any form of compromise or reforms." Presumably Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues feel they have Washington in their pocket and that Jerusalem must capitulate to Obama's demands.
Some longtime advocates of Fatah give up on Oslo diplomacy: For example, David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy recalls moderate statements by individuals like Rafik Natsheh who in the past "supported peace negotiations and sought reconciliation with Israel." But in advance of the congress, Natsheh stated that he "does not recognize Israel's right to exist." Schenker concludes that "Sixteen years after the Oslo Accords—and following repeated claims of Oslo's death—Natsheh's comments confirm the end of that peace process."
Nothing short of defeat will change the Palestinian institutions: The Palestinian Authority, the PLO, and Fatah make promise after promise, some of them very specific, but these organizations remain dedicated to the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. That is what the Palestinian body politic – rather than the Arab leaders or the Palestinian ones – demand. Only after Palestinians experience the bitter crucible of defeat will they give up on this goal.
Mainstream media coverage gets steadily worse: It's reached the point where the legacy media simply do not tell the truth on some subjects. Fatah is supposed to be moderate, so that's the way it gets reported. See David Bedein criticizing JTA, CAMERA on the Associated Press, and Noah Pollak on The New York Times. For reliable coverage, one must instead turn to organizations like MEMRI, GLORIA, and INSS. (August 14, 2009)